The Catholic Church of St. Michael the Archangel in the village of Mikhalishki

Grodno region, the Catholic Church of St. Michael the Archangel in the village of Mikhalishki

The village of Mikhalishki of Ostrovets district is situated about 30 km from the district center. The most important attraction of this village is the Catholic Church of St. Michael the Archangel, which was erected by the Augustinians in the late 17th century in the style of “Sarmatian” Baroque. This temple is located in a picturesque place on the left bank of the Vilia River, not far from a busy highway, so you will find it easily.

It is worth noting that the funds to build that church was donated by the referendary of the crown Yan Tsiprian Bzhostovsky in 1662. As a creator of this popular monument of religious architecture is mentioned the architect from Belgium – Krishtof Pence. The Catholic Church was consecrated in 1700 in honor of St. Michael the Archangelby Vilnius Metropolitan Tsiprian Bzhostovsky. At that time, Immaculate Michael the Archangel was revered as the most important Intercessor and the patron saint of the whole Grand Duchy.

 As it was mentioned above, the temple was built in the original style of “Sarmatian” Baroque. In addition, it became the first building in the history of Belarusian architecture, built in that style. Art historians and architectural connoisseurs often incorrectly call the Church “Gothic” that does not absolutely correspond to the facts and the period of its construction.

The architectural features of this temple include laconism, rationalism of lines and a kind of theatricality of the aesthetic appearance. Of course, all these are the typical features of Baroque. We can say that the building of the temple only imitates the image of a warlike medieval castle, but the building does not have any defensive systems and structures, such as embrasures and loopholes. There are no elements typical for Gothic Churches on the outer facades of the temple. But at the same time, the harsh and, you might say, ascetic external appearance of the church quite contrasts with the luxurious interior of the inner spiritual décor. It is easy to see that it makes a positive impression on the congregation.                       

The amazing beauty of the picturesque decoration of the church was fulfilled by the team of foreign decorators-painters in 1684-1700 – (J. M. Gali, A. Kapone, Y. Pens). Their work was carried out under the guidance of the court painter of Y. Sapega – Peter Perth. It is also worth noting that the same group of masters had been involved in the scenic painting of the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Vilnius shortly before it. It is very clear the masters of what level were invited in the village of Mikhalishki to improve that Catholic Church.  

During the World War I, the Catholic Church of St. Michael the Archangel was heavily damaged, as a result of which it became necessary to restore the temple.   

Today a trip to the village of Mikhalishki is included in a large number of fascinating excursions for those who are interested in the architectural heritage of the Republic of Belarus.